NVDT Random – Happy Birthday Sam

For all you research-aholics and etymology nuts, today is Dr. Samuel Johnson’s birthday.

You teach your daughters the diameters of the planets and wonder when you are done that they do not delight in your company.


“The only end of writing is to enable the readers better to enjoy life, or better to endure it.”

The Godfather of the English language Dictionary.

What? You thought Oxford did that? Nope. They did print theirs in such a small font it comes with its own magnifying glass. Which is okay or it would take up a room of my house were it legible to the naked eye.

Read over your compositions, and when you meet a passage which you think is particularly fine, strike it out.

It’s not that Johnson invented the dictionary, but until his came out English was left wanting for one. To publish a dictionary was trending in 1755 and Johnson wasn’t without criticism from fellow bibliophiles, one of whom called the work an “ingenious performance”, but the style of the work “flatulent”.  Johnson got there first and took the heat and pressure like a gentleman, admitting he was frightened of the books very existence. He hoped it might “make it easier for some other adventurer to proceed further…”

The advice that is wanted is commonly not welcome and that which is not wanted, evidently an effrontery.

Thanks, Sammy! Now about higgledy-piggledy being a corruption of higgle and higglers? You should know that it is still used today by professional football coaches, T-Ball coaches, English teachers, parents, befuddled sales managers, police spokespersons and school principles when they need a synonym for “that’s all kindsa fucked up” and can’t say “that’s all kindsa fucked up” without offending the perpetrators of higgledy-piggledy.

Grandparents were excluded from that list because I know one who might say “Grant, buddy? That’s all kindsa fucked up.”

All the quotes are Johnson’s

Published by

Phil Huston


5 thoughts on “NVDT Random – Happy Birthday Sam”

    1. I like my sarcasm metaphorical, with parable overtones. For the sake of it it is just mean. Satire, on the other hand? All the world’s a stage. Bierce’s sense of humor over word effect is hilarious in the face of stiff convention.

      Liked by 1 person

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